Alumna participation in Olympic games thrust U. into spotlightand Ivy Truong | Feb 23, 2018
During the last few Olympic games, alumna participation in hockey and rowing have thrust the University into the international spotlight.
Ice hockey player Caroline Park ’11 was named to the unified Korean team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Though she initially thought the offer was spam, Park dived into the competition headfirst.
Park is currently taking a leave of absence from Columbia University’s medical school in New York City in order to compete.
The former head coach of the University’s women’s ice hockey team and current head coach of Pennsylvania State University’s team, Jeff Kampersal ’92, coached Park during her time at the University. According to Kampersal, Park’s talents included her speed, competitiveness, and understanding of the game. He added that her skills went beyond her athleticism however.
“She also had an interesting life away from hockey,” explained Kampersal. “She excelled at school, and she was an accomplished actress.”
He added that at the University, the coaches focused on teaching players to work “extremely hard, be aggressive, and to execute good habits.” For Park however, motivation was never a problem.
“Again, from the day we started recruiting her, you knew immediately how organized and how determined she was,” Kampersal said.
As an undergraduate student, Park fit in her classes during the mornings and nights so that she could accommodate her afternoon practices. Kampersal explained that the training added up to 20 hours per week, not including travel time. Park's schedule was even more crowded, since as a pre-med student she had to make time for multiple labs every week, he added.
According to Kampersal, Park performed her two full-time jobs — athlete and pre-med student — exceptionally well.
“How many people can say they competed in the Olympics while in medical school?” asked Kampersal. “Her ability to time-manage, deal with stress, probably sleep little, and learn to be doctor and while competing at the highest level in her sport, speaks for itself.”
Alumnae have also participated in the last few summer Olympic games.
The current head coach of the University’s women’s rowing team, Lori Dauphiny, spoke highly about three alumnae competitors: Lauren Wilkinson ’11, Caroline Lind ’06, and Gevvie Stone ’07. All three have earned medals at the Olympics in rowing. They also won NCAA championships with the varsity eight during their time at the University.
“I can’t tell you how much pride I felt when I saw them standing up on the stands,” said Dauphiny. “And even if they didn’t win medals, I feel the same pride.”
All three athletes worked extremely hard and were exceptional students, balancing two-hour daily weekday practices and occasional weekend morning practices before competitions.
“[These] future Olympic athletes were relentless and had big hearts,” explained Dauphiny. “[They were] feisty and didn’t let things get them down.”
Despite their shared quality of persistence, each athlete had slightly different personalities and attributes. Lind, who crushed every record during her time at the University and was the first female alumna to win a gold medal at the Olympics, “stood out immediately as someone who was on fire and was faster than any athlete I had ever coached,” Dauphiny said. She is now a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning gold in the Women's eight for the United States in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
According to Dauphiny, Lind was “one of the most humble kids” she has coached. If anything went wrong during a competition, she would always turn to her coach to ask what she could do to bounce back.
While Stone was not as strong as Lind on the ergometer, the indoor rowing machine that measures strength and fitness, she was gifted technically, especially since she rowed small boats during high school.
Dauphiny remarked on Stone’s “exceptional boat feel” and her natural ability to sense when she was executing proper technique. Furthermore, Stone underwent knee surgery in her sophomore year. Fortunately — and impressively — she made a large comeback that spring.
“[She went] from not being able to walk to going to make very fast records in the spring and then winning the national championship [in 2006],” Dauphiny said.
Stone also placed second in women's single sculls in the 2016 Olympics.
Wilkinson, for her part, was a “wild card,” according to Dauphiny, but was nevertheless one of the most “consistent athletes” in terms of technique, effort, and scores, that Dauphiny has ever coached. She won the silver medal in the Women's eight for Canada in the 2012 London Olympics.
“[Wilkinson] was a leader in a very quiet way, and that always impressed me,” said Dauphiny. “She didn’t use loud words, [but instead], she led by example and was someone that the team looked up to.”
When asked to recall one Wilkinson moment most impressive to Dauphiny, she referenced the 2011 NCAA championship. With Wilkinson’s help, the University won, despite being the underdog.
“I didn’t have to motivate them [because] you don’t get into Princeton unless you’re self-motivated,” Dauphiny said.
Currently, Stone is a physician and is completing her residency. Wilkinson was previously considering veterinary medicine, while Lind works for the University’s Office of Development.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will end on Feb. 25.
This article was amended so as to make clear that the writers were looking at past summer Olympic games in addition to the 2018 Winter Olympics held in Pyeongchang. The 'Prince' regrets any confusion this may have caused.